Oct. 15, 2007 – Dealers cashing in on UTV customization

By Steve Bauer
Managing Editor
One of the biggest trends to come out of the boom in UTV sales has been the seemingly unlimited number of accessories available to consumers to customize a vehicle for their needs.
Not only has this customization craze made UTVs even more attractive to riders looking to give their vehicle a distinct look, but it’s also been a boon to dealers, who are in many cases selling from $300-$3,000 in accessories for each UTV sold in their dealership, according to a recent Powersports Business survey. The large profit potential has turned the heads of many dealers, who are now scrambling to claim a piece of this profit hot spot.

To each his own
A unique advantage UTVs hold over other powersports vehicles is their ability to be customized not only from a performance standpoint but also the huge variety of accessories customers can purchase to customize their vehicle for usage, comfort and style. Whether the UTV is purchased for hunting, recreation or utility purposes, aftermarket manufacturers have capitalized on a customer’s need to personalize their UTV much like they would a car or truck. Accessory options vary from tool racks and plows to chrome wheels and custom body kits. Dealers say that with each customer who walks through the door, his or her need for a particular UTV can be completely different from someone else looking at the same vehicle.
“Our customers love to accessorize their UTVs, and we’ve found during the past two years that we can average $1,000 in accessories for each UTV purchase,” said Patrick Mohr, general manager of Kendall Cycle outside of San Antonio, Texas. “We had a customer come in a year ago, purchased a Yamaha Rhino, then proceeded to order more than $8,000 in accessories, including new tires, suspension system, an elevated seating system and a custom sound system. Now obviously he’s the exception to the rule, but it goes to show how involved people can get with customizing their UTVs. When you’re spending that much money on a vehicle, you want to make sure it fits your needs.”
Many dealers say the biggest potential for UTV accessory sales comes from hunters, who have very specific needs for their vehicles. Among the category’s “big ticket” accessories are winches, plastic enclosures, jump seats and multi-level seating frames. But even less expensive items can start to add up quickly.
“I can typically sell double the amount of accessories to hunters than any other customer,” said Lance Boyd, owner of B&B Motorsports in Lansing, Mich. “You’re always going to push a winch or an enclosure, but the money starts to add up when you add gun scabbards, center console storage, specialty camouflage decals and storage luggage.”
Boyd says the competition to keep hunters in the store after they purchase their vehicle can be tough, because big box retailers like Cabela’s offer competitive pricing on similar accessories.
“I do my best to always have whatever Cabela’s offers in stock, and I’ll typically have one UTV completely decked out in hunting accessories so a customer can see what the complete package looks like,” he said. “If they still want to price compare, I’ll pull out the Cabela’s catalog, show them the products I have in stock, and let them know we can attach the accessories free of charge and they can be in the field hunting in most cases the same day.”

Sport, utility customs
Although hunting accessories tend to be high on many customers’ wish lists, both sport and utility side-by-sides offer opportunities for extensive customization as well, most notably sport UTVs.
“We sell a lot of Polaris RZRs, and those types of sporty UTVs lend themselves well to customization,” said Kerry Patton, general manager of Southside Motors in Madison, Wis. “We tend to sell a lot of different tires to fit the terrain our customers will be riding on, not to mention hood covers, fold-down windshields, color schemes and suspension/engine modifications.”
Patton says he sees a lot of modification on recreational UTVs because his customers want to differentiate themselves while riding, whether it’s through performance or design/style.
“These vehicles are meant for fun, and customers tend to let their personalities show when choosing their accessories,” he said. “We really focus on selling that ‘fun’ aspect of the vehicle, and encourage customers to personalize their UTVs, not only because of the awesome variety available from aftermarket companies but also it gives them a more emotional attachment to the vehicle.”
Utility side-by-sides, the workhorses of the group, attract more serious buyers looking mainly for performance and durability, but it doesn’t mean additional sales can’t be made on certain accessories.
“I sell ramps, cargo bed extensions, tool racks and other items that will aid a farmer or rancher,” Patton said. “And although this strays from the customization aspect, I always get questions about trailers, food plot attachments and similar accessories.”

A personal touch
With the continued increase in UTV sales, both manufacturers and dealers recognize that customization will play an even bigger role in sales in the future. Yamaha, for example, recently introduced three custom paint schemes available for purchase from the factory. And dealers are making more room in their stores for what they increasingly understand is a potential profit jackpot.
“At some point a customer is going to want to add onto their UTV,” Boyd said. “It might not be at the time of sale, but you have to make sure they know you are able to cater to whatever accessory they’re interested in. I believe you’re missing a huge opportunity by not advertising these products to your customers, because if they don’t buy them from you, someone else will be profiting off it.”

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